Google+, The New Facebook?
From the launch of Friendster in 2002, which pioneered the online connection of real-world friends – to MySpace, which embodied the essence of the early millennium, social media has become an everyday form of communication and a permanent fixture in modern society.
It’s hard to remember a time before Facebook, status updates or friend requests, but the craze of social media is a relatively new concept. For example, AOL Instant Messenger, which sparked the instant messaging era, was only developed in 1997.
I think it’s fairly safe to say that Facebook now reigns supreme in the social media world – growing to 750 million active users in just seven years. Not only does Facebook connect you with friends and family throughout the world, but it is also a valuable marketing tool for businesses.
Facebook is so huge that in some countries it generates more traffic than Google, but is that all about to change? Google, the search engine giant, has just launched its very own social media site, Google+, and some critics say it could be bigger than Facebook.
Google+ turns the entire search engine into one huge social network. This brand new social network is the culmination of a year-long project led by Vic Gundotra, Google’s senior vice president of social, and is Google’s answer to Facebook.
Google+ will be omnipresent in its products, thanks to a completely redesigned navigation bar. The familiar gray strip at the top of every Google page will turn black and have multiple options for accessing your Google+ profile, viewing notifications and instantly sharing content, according to mashable.com.
While Google+ will be very similar to Facebook, it has many new features that have social media geeks ready to delete their Facebooks accounts and go strictly Google+. Circles+ is one of the features that sets Google+ apart from Facebook. Circles+ allows users to drag-and-drop their friends into different social circles for friends, family, classmates, co-workers and other custom groups. This allows users to customize what information they share with whom.
Another Google+ feature that gives Facebook a serious run for its money is the video chat feature, “Hangouts.” “Hangouts” is different than other video chats, instead of just joining a group chat; users instead click “start a hangout” and are instantly in a video chat room alone. Simultaneously, a message goes out to their social circles, letting them know that their friend is “hanging out.” So if a friend wants to stop by and “hang out” they can, and results from internal testing found that friends quickly join the hangout.
Circles+ and “Hangouts” are just a few of the many new and unique features that Google+ has to offer. Another interesting aspect of Google+ is its exclusivity. During the field test period you could only obtain a Google+ account if you were asked to join.
Google+ is an obvious response to Facebook’s rise to power and stronghold in the social media realm. So has Facebook finally met its match with Google+? Many social media gurus think so, but I guess only time will tell.
Microsoft: Building a secure foundation to drive NASCAR
Microsoft is a key partner of The National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) and together they are driving ahead to create an inclusive and immersive new fan experience (FX).
These long-term partners have not only navigated the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic with the use of Microsoft Teams and Microsoft 365, but are now looking to a future packed with virtual events to enhance the FX, well beyond NASCAR’S famous Daytona racetrack.
“Together, we've created a secure environment that's allowed for collaboration, but the future is all about the fans”, said Melinda Cook, General Manager for Microsoft South USA Commercial Business, who cited a culture of transparency, passion, adaptiveness, and a growth mindset as to why this alignment is so successful.”
“We've partnered to create a fluid, immersive experience for the users that is supported by a secure foundation with Microsoft in the background. We are focused on empowering and enabling customers and businesses, like NASCAR, to reach their full potential. We do this with our cloud platform which provides data insights and security.”
“Our cloud environment allows NASCAR to move forward with their digital transformation journey while we are in the background,” said Cook who highlights that Microsoft is helping NASCAR
- Empower employees productivity and collaboration
- Improve fan engagement and experience
- Improve environment security and IT productivity
- Improve racing operations
Microsoft Teams, which is part of the Microsoft 365 suite, enabled employees to work remotely, while staying productive, during the pandemic. “This allowed people to provide the same level of productivity with the use of video conference and instant messaging to collaborate on documents. Increased automation also allows the pit crews, IT, and the business to focus on safety, racing operations, and on the fan experience,” said Cook.
“We have started to innovate to create a more inclusive fanbase, this includes using Xbox to give people the experience of being a virtual racer or even leveraging some of the tools in Microsoft Teams to have a virtual ride along experience.”
“These environments are how we create a more inclusive and immersive experience for the fans. We're working on a virtual fan wall which allows people from new locations to participate in these events,” said Cook, who pointed out Microsoft was also helping bring legacy experiences alive from NASCAR’s archives.
“At Microsoft we can take it one level further by letting fans know what it's like to see the pit crew experience, the data and all the behind-the-scenes action. We will continue to improve automation with machine learning and artificial intelligence, from marketing to IT operations to finance to racing operations,” said Cook.
Christine Stoffel-Moffett, Vice President of Enterprise Technology at NASCAR, said: “Microsoft is one of our key partners. They have been instrumental in helping the NASCAR enterprise technology team re-architect our Microsoft systems to ensure an advanced level of security across our environment, contribute to our business outcomes, and focus on fan experience.”